It’s been the most incredible week in Washington D.C., and without doubt the most successful of the Trump presidency to date. In 2016, many people laughed at me when I said Trump would win. When I said it again to Democrats who I met this time, there was no laughter, just an empty stare.
The main reason for my visit was that, with Brexit achieved, I am now out of full-time work and out of elected politics for the first time in more than 20 years. An invitation from Texan Congressman Louie Gohmert to sit in the gallery and watch Trump’s State of the Union address proved irresistible.
The speech itself was by far the best that I’ve ever seen Trump give. He was in control from start to finish. As he championed the economic gains line by line, the Republican Congressmen and Senators rose to their feet and applauded. What astonished me was how many others sitting in the gallery joined in as well, even if some of the claims which the President made are disputed. Throughout much of the proceedings, the Democrats sat motionless, looking solemn and, frankly, beaten.
Halfway through, we saw why Trump has been labelled the greatest showman global politics has ever seen. I am told that it is normal for certain distinguished guests to be in the Presidential box up in the gallery, but Trump involved members of the audience as well in a way that turned the event into a live TV spectacle to rival any popular program.
One distinguished guest present was Charles McGee, a 100-year-old Second World War fighter pilot, a member of the legendary Tuskagee Airmen group of pioneering African-American fighter pilots and an individual who the president said had flown more than 130 combat missions in World War II. McGee was asked to stand, so that his stunning achievements could be acknowledged. Even many Democrats felt compelled to join in with the ovation which this American hero so richly deserved.
Then there was Amy Williams, a North Carolina mother of two young children whose husband deployed to Afghanistan seven months ago. Noting the heavy burden placed on military families, Trump arranged for Mrs Williams’ husband, Sgt. First Class Townsend Williams, to join them. Watching their poignant reunion was a profound moment which, I am certain, affected everybody present.
Next the very graceful First Lady placed the Presidential Medal of Freedom around the neck of Rush Limbaugh, the biggest radio host in the USA, who had recently received a very bad medical diagnosis. This was the State of the Union turned into a fitting tribute to Americans from all backgrounds who show courage in many different ways. It was extraordinary. In fact, it was the best theatre ticket I’ve ever had.
By contrast, the female Democrats were all dressed in white, to draw attention to their perception that Trump is a misogynist. As they stood there they looked more like a bunch of naive students than a group of supposedly senior politicians. Enter Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker. By tearing up the copy of the speech given to her by Trump, she cheapened herself, degraded a great office of state, and made the Democratic Party look more like a protest movement than a serious alternative to government. I have witnessed petulant stunts like this before in British politics, especially within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, and we all know where it has ended up. Having moved so far to the left, it virtually disqualified itself from office at the last general election. Many believe the party’s future now hangs in the balance.
To make matters worse for the Democratic Party, the agony of Iowa was continuing. Its caucus had developed a new voting app, but it turned out not to work and the results were delayed day after day. I don’t think that President Trump could believe his luck at times this week.
Four more years
I was fortunate enough to have a meeting with Mr Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday evening, soon after the impeachment process was defeated. If the Democrats thought they could wear him down, I can confirm they are sorely mistaken. Trump’s base is now more determined to go and vote for him than ever. With just a little bi-partisanship, so much could have been achieved in infrastructure projects and much else since 2016. But the swamp decided it would continue to attempt to delegitimize the President. This does not impress middle America.The State of (Gender Equity in) the UnionREAD MORE
There are still nine long months to go until the election, but it is worth noting that Donald Trump’s personal popularity is now at its high point and, barring any disasters, he seems set to return to the White House for four more years. This should be great news for the newly independent Britain, freed from the shackles of the European Union, but I am afraid a dark cloud hangs over the country at present. The recent decision of the UK government to involve the Chinese technology firm Huawei in the creation of our 5G network imperils not just intelligence sharing but a future trade deal passing in Congress. Forming ties with this company is proving to be a monumental mistake at a time when the special relationship should be flourishing.
I travelled back to London having thoroughly enjoyed the week and was pleased to see, on landing, that some senior figures in the Conservative Party have also stood up to denounce the Huawei deal as a disaster. Let us hope that this decision can be suspended and overturned, and that we can get the special relationship back on track. Perhaps the UK’s new ambassador to Washington, Karen Pierce, will help. Then again, maybe I am being too optimistic. She is a career Foreign Office type in the same mould as her predecessor, Kim Darroch. When will Downing Street learn?